Today’s Keep or Mulligan edition features New Zealand Pro Jason Chung as a guest! You can reach Jason on Twitter @Sqlut. Thanks a lot Jason!
You’re playing Sneak and Show in Legacy and you know your opponent is playing Storm. It’s game 1, you are on the play, and your hand is:
Keep or Mulligan?
I honestly don’t hate this hand—I think it if you draw a land turn 1 you’re a heavy favorite to win the game even if your turn 1 is “go.” The problem is that you’re less than 30% to draw a blue source turn 1, and that includes four Lotus Petals—most Sneak and Show lists run only 13-14 blue-producing lands. The chance to draw a blue land on either turn 1 or turn 2 is still less than 50%, and past that point I’d estimate that you are no longer a favorite. You also know your opponent is not going to blindly combo into your Force of Will, since you’re almost guaranteed to have at least one in your opening hand if your turn 1 is “go.”
I think it’s very hard to do math in this hand because there are a lot of permutations that can be good, and it’s hard to say how drawing a land on turn 2 is going to turn out. Unless your opponent is playing a build that is really cold to Force of Will, I think you’re better off trying for 6 cards.
Although this hand has a pair of Force of Wills which is one of the crucial cards in the matchup, this hand does not do a whole lot. You will be missing your first land drop and once you do that your opponent will get an idea of what your hand looks like and can carefully play the next few turns around Force of Will. This hand is good at not losing early to Storm, but it doesn’t have a solid plan to win, and for every turn you’re not doing anything you are letting them sculpt a better hand to play around all the countermagic.
You’re playing Modern with Naya Burn/Zoo (basically a burn deck but with Wild Nacatl). You’re on the play against an unknown opponent. Your hand is:
Keep or Mulligan?
Burn wins when it amasses a certain number of resources, and this hand is very bad at doing that. You do have a turn-4 kill with this hand, but an opposing Lightning Bolt turns it into a turn-8 kill instead. I think there are enough ways to kill turn 4 that you don’t have to keep a hand because it’s capable of doing that unopposed (and I can envision a lot of 1-, 2-, or even 3-landers that are better than this on 6 cards).
Mulligan. This hand contains too many lands. Although it has the best turn-1 play followed by a Goblin Guide, it lacks gas beyond that. Most decks in Modern can answer one or both of your early threats and even against the ones that can’t, you’re in danger of just drawing another land or two and being completely out of gas fast. The scry rule also helps mitigate mulligans with Burn.
This hand contains too many lands. Although it has the best turn-1 play followed by a Goblin Guide, it lacks gas beyond that. Most decks in Modern can answer one or both of your early threats and even against the ones that can’t, you’re in danger of just drawing another land or two and being completely out of gas fast. The scry rule also helps mitigate mulligans with Burn.
You’re playing Esper Dragons in Standard and you’re on the draw. You don’t know what your opponent is playing, but you’re currently in the draw bracket (you drew round 1 and so did they).
Your opening hand is:
Keep or Mulligan?
This hand has two big problems: One, it’s very bad against certain types of decks. You could argue that you’re less likely to play against those decks in the draw bracket, and that’s true, but you’d be surprised what people manage to draw with—you could easily play against something like GW, it doesn’t have to be the mirror (though it would be surprising to find out you’re paired against Red, which is a plus for this hand).
Two, the rewards are not that big. Sure, it’s a good hand in the mirror (and I’d keep if I knew that was the matchup I was playing), but having a good hand in the mirror means far less than in any other matchup, because your opening hand is such a small portion of the total cards you see, and nothing is happening in the early turns anyway to punish you for having a bad hand. The one card that does potentially punish you, Jace, is still going to be good against this hand. Against Jeskai, if they have an aggressive draw, you don’t want this hand, and if they don’t, then you don’t need a good hand to begin with. So the cost if you keep this hand and you’re wrong is huge, but the benefits are small.
Your opponent is in the draw bracket which makes it more likely he is either playing a control deck like Esper or a green midrange deck such as Abzan. Although this hand does not interact well with early creatures, your opponent is probably not on a red aggro deck and you are playing a land-heavy deck that relies on its lands a lot. I think this is a close keep, but knowing your opponent is unlikely to be super aggressive, I’d lean toward a keep.
You are playing a good 4-color converge deck in Battle for Zendikar Sealed. Your mana is good, you have 2 Evolving Wilds, 1 Fertile Thicket, and 2 dual lands. You’re on the play and your opening hand is:
Keep or Mulligan?
I don’t like keeping 6-landers in Limited, but I think having access to all your colors, as well as basically the best 4-drop creature in the format, justifies it. If they do not have spot removal for your Wanderer (and there aren’t many, since it dodges all the toughness-based removal and doesn’t tap to attack and so can’t be Sheer Dropped), then it can win the game almost by itself as a 6/6 on turn 4.
This might seem like a greedy keep but you have all your colors and one of the best turn-4 plays in the format. You can cast anything you draw, additionally you can lead with turn-1 Fertile Thicket, and if you put a high number of nonland cards to the bottom of your library you can simply turn-2 Evolving Wilds. If you hit a high number of lands, you can elect to not play the Evolving Wilds and slightly increase the chance of drawing more nonland cards.
You’re playing Jund against Bogles in Modern. It’s game 1, you’re on the play, and your opening hand is:
Keep or Mulligan?
The question this hand presents is basically “can you race Bogles or do you need disruption?” and I think the answer is “you need disruption”—not only is Bogles very hard to race with a “fair” draw, but it’s also not going to grow your ‘Goyfs for you, and 2/3s are not very good at racing. One of the big problems with the Bogles deck is that it’s particularly soft to the black cards: Thoughtseize, Inquisition, Liliana, Abrupt Decay (to a lesser extent)—and your deck has all of them, but none are in your hand. It’s better to mulligan into a more interactive hand than to keep and hope to draw into it by turns 1 or 2.
This hand doesn’t do a whole lot versus Bogles. Against an unknown opponent this is a fine hand, but this hand gets outraced by Bogles easily. Bogles doesn’t play any sorceries and you can’t put any of their creatures in their graveyard, so Tarmogoyf is going to be relatively slow a majority of the game and it’s going to be hard to race your opponent.
You are on the play, which makes mulliganing better—Inquisition and Thoughtseize are live to take a Bogle out of their hand. Mulliganing allows you to hit Inquisition, Thoughtseize, Abrupt Decay, and Liliana, which are much better cards in this matchup.